In Praiseof poetry

ALL THINGS POETIC
By Arlice W. Davenport

W E L C O M E   T O   M Y   P O E T R Y   S I T E

Here you will find my latest poems, my book reviews

on new poetry,  my favorite poets, and much more. 

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when new poems magically appear on the page.

I am the author of two books of poems,

Setting the Waves on Fire and Everlasting.

Both are available online at

meadowlark-books.com.

Contact me at arliced@yahoo.com.

(TO FIND THE COMPLETE POEM BELOW,

CLICK ON THE TITLE, THEN SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE)
 

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A GALLERY OF POEMS

Classic Poems

The Starry Night

BY ANNE SEXTON

("That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars."

-- Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother.)

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.   

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die.

 

It moves. They are all alive.

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons   

to push children, like a god, from its eye.

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.   

Oh starry starry night! This is how   

I want to die:

 

into that rushing beast of the night,   

sucked up by that great dragon, to split   

from my life with no flag,

no belly,

no cry.

 

Anne Sexton, “The Starry Night” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1981)

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The Fountain 
by Charles Baudelaire

My dear, your eyes are weary;

Rest them a little while.

Assume the languid posture

Of pleasure mixed with guile.

Outside the talkative fountain

Continues night and day

Repeating my warm passion

In whatever it has to say.

 

             The sheer luminous gown

                           The fountain wears

             Where Phoebe’s very own

                           Color appears

             Falls like a summer rain

                           Or shawl of tears.

 

Thus your soul ignited

By pleasure’s lusts and needs

Sprays into heaven’s reaches

And dreams of fiery deeds.

Then it brims over, dying,

And languorous, apart,

Drains down some slope and enters

The dark well of my heart.

 

             The sheer luminous gown

                           The fountain wears

             Where Phoebe’s very own

                           Color appears

             Falls like a summer rain

                           Or shawl of tears.

 

O you, whom night enhances,

How sweet here at your breasts

To hear the eternal sadness

Of water that never rests.

O moon, o singing fountain,

O leaf-thronged night above,

You are the faultless mirrors

Of my sweet, bitter love.

 

             The sheer luminous gown

                           The fountain wears

             Where Phoebe’s very own

                           Color appears

             Falls like a summer rain

                           Or shawl of tears.

 

TRANSLATED BY ANTHONY HECHT

C. P. Cavafy

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Ithaka

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

 

Hope your road is a long one.

May there be many summer mornings when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

 

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

 

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn't have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

 

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY

 

C. P. Cavafy, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

Source: C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1975)

Why poetry?
IT IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL
“Poetry should surprise by
a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.”
— John Keats, from
"On Axioms and
the Surprise of Poetry
."

IT IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL

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